The ringing of my landline phone was bound to be a telemarketer but I answered it anyway. Picking up the receiver didn’t stop the ringing but I noticed the floor lamp was flicking on and off so I cautiously walked over to it, heard it ringing and said hello. It was still ringing so I did what anyone would do—I pulled the bulb chain. My mother’s voice said, “You took long enough answering the phone. Did you know it was me?”
We talked about unpleasant subjects for a while and when she realized she couldn’t guilt me on this call she said goodbye and I pulled the chain again and hung up.
A half hour later the phone rang again so I got up and walked to the floor lamp and pulled the chain. The ringing continued so I looked around my living room and in perfect time with a ring a book fell out of the bookcase. I picked it up and it was my mother again. After complaining about something she started to invite me for dinner when a phone ring began again. It wasn’t the book or the lamp and it wasn’t as loud as the others so while talking to my mother I followed the ringing into my bathroom and over to the hamper. I lifted the lid and a gruff voice said, “It took you long enough.”
I told my mother I’d call her back and she said, “Don’t bother,” and the book, The Killer Inside Me, closed and I heard a dial tone.
“What do you want?” I asked my hamper and it sounded like my mother again, but somewhat garbled and she told me that I was suffocating everything in there and it was past time to get my clothes to the laundry. The hamper lid closed and I heard another dial tone.
I grabbed a large black garbage bag and filled it from the hamper and headed toward my door en route to the library. As I passed the guest bathroom the phone rang again and I looked at the lamp, the book case, and my bathroom hamper, and then, with the phone still ringing, I grabbed the door knob and heard the ring coming from the guest bathroom. The toilet seat was lifting and lowering in time with the ringing and I decided there was no way I was going to talk to a toilet so I closed the bathroom door and sped out of my apartment.
As I passed my bike locked in its rack I heard a phone ringing and saw the back wheel spinning but decided that talking to an inanimate object in the privacy of my apartment was one thing but to do it in public was a “no way Jose”. I took two steps toward the cleaners and my next door neighbor passed me and we said our “Hi”s and then he said, “Yo. Your bike is calling.”
Paul Beckman’s new flash collection is Kiss Kiss (Truth Serum Press). He had a story selected for the 2018 Norton Micro-fiction Anthology and another nominated for The Best Small Fictions 2019 BSF. Some of his stories appeared in Spelk, Necessary Fiction, Litro, Pank, Playboy, Thrice Fiction, The Lost Balloon, and The Raleigh Review.